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Grant Provides Funds to Help Ex-Offenders

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) has announced a $100,000 Fidelity Bonding Demonstration grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant allows the state to expand its use of fidelity bonds to help persons with criminal records obtain employment, including ex-offenders recovering from opioid and other drug addictions.

A fidelity bond is a business insurance policy that insures an employer against employee dishonesty, such as theft, forgery, larceny, and embezzlement. The Fidelity Bonding Program of Michigan provides incentive for employers to hire job seekers who are considered high-risk because of factors in their personal background. These factors can include, but are not limited to, poor credit records, recovering substance abuse users, ex-offenders, and those who were dishonorably discharged from military service.

The state of Michigan administers the Fidelity Bonding Program through coordinators at every Michigan Works! Agency.

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) projects between 8,800 and 9,500 parolees each year for the next four years, with an estimated total of 36,500 parolees for the full four-year time period of this grant. Additionally, it is projected that about 65 percent of the estimated parolees have an identified substance abuse issue, such as opioid addiction.

“We will strengthen our partnership with the MDOC and their Vocational Village, as well as leverage the Veterans Reemployment Workshops that are currently being conducted in multiple state prison facilities,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, acting director of the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan. “Both offer excellent opportunities to increase knowledge and utilization of the Fidelity Bonding program.”

Vocational Village is a first-of-its-kind skilled trades training program that aims to provide a positive learning community for prisoners who are serious about completing career and technical education. The Veterans Reemployment Workshop includes four two-hour blocks of instruction within the prison and covers a variety of topics such as the state workforce system, resume writing, interview skills, resources available upon release, and military transferable skills.

The state also will pursue a new partnership with approximately 180 local drug and/or veteran treatment courts located across the state to educate them about the Fidelity Bonding Program.

“These courts provide a chance for individuals to receive necessary treatment and potentially avoid incarceration,” Beckhorn said. “The state also will promote the Fidelity Bonding Program as an important resource for individuals involved with the courts who are having difficulty obtaining employment.”

Learn more about the Fidelity Bonding Program on TIA’s Workforce Development Agency website.